Foreign Office minister hits out at Boris Johnson over 'idiot' attack on Jeremy Corbyn
Foreign Office minister Mark Field has hit out at his boss Boris Johnson for branding Jeremy Corbyn the Kremlin’s “useful idiot”.
Mr Johnson launched the broadside yesterday as he condemned the Labour leader for failing to unequivocally accuse Russia of the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
But junior Foreign Office minister Mr Field said Mr Johnson's intervention was “not helpful at all”.
“I would always try and play the ball and not the man when it comes to these things,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour.
“I think to get personal about it is not helpful at all.”
He added: “We all know that Boris has a style and there’s also a style that the ordinary rules of political gravity don’t apply to Boris Johnson.”
He added that Mr Corbyn had not been granted full access to the intelligence which led the Government to conclude the Kremlin was behind the near-fatal attack.
Yesterday Mr Johnson accused Moscow of peddling “an avalanche of lies” about the attack - after it mocked the accusations against it and shared conspiracy theories of how the poisoning could have happened.
In an article for the Sunday Times, he wrote: “There is only one thing that gives the Kremlin succour and lends false credibility to its propaganda onslaught.
“That is when politicians from the targeted countries join in. Sadly, I am driven to the conclusion that Jeremy Corbyn has joined this effort.”
He said Mr Corbyn came from an “infantile leftist background” which led him to sympathise with “any country, any movement, however unappealing, that is hostile to Britain”.
And he added: “Corbyn shames himself by lending it succour. Truly he is the Kremlin’s useful idiot.”
But Labour rebuked Mr Johnson after his claim that Porton Down had confirmed the Novichok nerve agent came from Russia was contradicted by the boss of the defence lab.
A Labour spokesperson said: “Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly said the evidence points to Russia being responsible, directly or indirectly, and that the Russian authorities must be held to account on the basis of evidence.
“Boris Johnson has made a fool of himself. These ridiculous insults won’t distract attention from the fact that he has clearly misled the public over vital issues of national security.”
The row comes as ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia continue to recover in hospital in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning.